Differences Between Conventional and Spray Foam Insulation

by | Last updated Nov 6, 2019 | Published on Jul 1, 2019 | Renovations | 0 comments

Spray Foam Insulation Conserves Energy

Most homeowners know that they need insulation to keep their homes energy-efficient and comfortable, but they still have questions. How can insulation be removed safely? When installing insulation, the choice between conventional insulation and spray foam may be difficult because many people don’t know the differences between the two options. Read on to learn more about these differences.

Safe Removal of Old Insulation

When removing old insulation from the 1930s through the 1950s, it’s crucial to ensure that it doesn’t contain asbestos. You must buy a testing kit or consult a professional. From there, samples are sent for lab testing. If asbestos is found, you’ll have to hire an asbestos removal and disposal specialist.

For the removal of blown insulation, you’ll need a high-capacity shop vacuum or HEPA-filtered insulation removal tools. Because it’s not intact, blown insulation is sometimes messy and difficult to contain. Airborne particles from blown insulation may cause respiratory issues, so be sure to wear the right protective gear.

Which Insulation is Right For My Home?

This is a long-standing question with no firm answer. We’re certain of some factors, though. Insulation keeps the home’s temperature consistent; it helps homes conserve energy, and it helps owners save on utility expenses. Where residential insulation is concerned, there are two common options: fiberglass and spray foam. Fiberglass insulation traps air and slows the exchange of heat between surfaces, while spray foam insulation expands to almost 100 times its starting volume before hardening into a solid. It allows for greater coverage and a more automated installation process.

The Details on Spray Foam Insulation

If you’re thinking of installing spray foam insulation, you have two choices: open and closed cell.


With open cell insulation, air fills the gaps left by the broken cells. It’s softer and less solid than closed cell foam insulation. It may seem somewhat ineffective, but it’s less expensive. If you’re in an area where the walls won’t undergo much stress, open cell insulation is a viable option.


Although open cell insulation is limited in its range, closed cell foam insulation is more varied. We evaluate the measurement unit through the weight of a single cubic foot, and it may range from 0.4 to 0.5 pounds. Its R-value is determined by a factor of 3.5 for every inch and its density. Closed cell foam insulation may be as high as two pounds per cubic foot, and higher-density foam is used in more applications.

The Benefits and Drawbacks of Spray Foam and Conventional Insulation

With each insulation type, there are a few pros and cons to review. Take fiberglass insulation for an example. It’s less expensive, but it allows almost one-third of the air to escape. That number will increase with poor installation practices. Spray foam insulation is costlier and requires professional installation, but it fills spaces more completely.

Technician Spraying Foam Insulation

The R-Value of Insulation

When evaluating the differences between spray foam and conventional insulation, R-value is just one factor to consider. R-value is an indication of insulation’s heat transfer resistance. The higher the value, the less heat will move through the insulation. For residential applications, 38 is an optimal R-value, which means you’ll need a 6.3-inch layer of insulation to reach that designation. With conventional insulation, you’ll need much more, at a higher cost.

Making the Decision

Your choice between regular and spray foam insulation may depend on factors such as:

  • The project’s scope
  • Your budget
  • Your preferences
  • The local climate
  • Other environmental factors

In the end, the choice is for you and your installer to make. Though it’s important to consider your budget, in most applications, spray foam insulation offers increased coverage and improved results. It’s a tough choice, but it’s an important one.

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